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The Edith Wharton Murders (Nick Hoffman Mysteries Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Lev Raphael
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $5.99

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Book Description

College + Crime + Conference = Comedy

Chaos hits the State University of Michigan when two bitterly rival Edith Wharton societies are brought together for a joint conference. Its reluctant organizer, assistant professor Nick Hoffman, is desperate to get tenure, but things go from bad to worse to murder.

There's never been an academic satire quite like this one or a sleuth like Nick Hoffman.

Editorial Reviews Review

Whoever said that the pen was mightier than the sword might have had The Edith Wharton Murders in mind. In this campus mystery by the talented Lev Raphael, a conference on Edith Wharton becomes a killing ground when various literary factions carry their war of words a little too far--and someone ends up dead. At the heart of both the hostilities and the mystery is Nick Hoffman, a Wharton bibliographer saddled with the thankless task of moderating the conference. Once the murder has occurred, Nick must switch his focus from panel discussions to investigation, a course of action that provides plenty of opportunities for author Raphael to skewer the academic world he left behind.

From Kirkus Reviews

As if the State University of Michigan weren't already full enough of misfits and malcontents, a conference on Edith Wharton promises to pipe more in from across the country. Reluctant conference organizer Nick Hoffman is sure that the invited guests- -rival Wharton scholars Van Deegan Jones (of the offensively insular old guard) and Verity Gallup (of the offensively irresponsible new), trendy punk novelist Chloe DeVore and her current lover Vivianne Fresnel, bestselling trashy romancer/aspiring Wharton biographer Grace-Dawn Vaughan and her professor-baiting editor Devon Davenport--will mix so well with the home-grown cargo of covetous academics, spineless administrators, and born-again trustees that they'll all be delighted when the conference is history. But even Nick is surprised when Chloe DeVore is bashed to death with one of the attractive new granite tiles being installed at the conference site, and a throng of new suspects (a lesbian colleague hoping to break up Chloe's on-again affair with Vivianne! a novelist prostrated by Chloe's dismissive review! a fortuitous ex-husband!) come leaping into the spotlight with all the spontaneity and emotional expressiveness of the Rockettes. As in Nick's debut (Let's Get Criminal, 1996), criminal investigation takes a backseat to catty gossip as the narrator outdoes the characters by trashing authors as diverse as David Baldacci and Eve K. Sedgwick. Except for the murders, the conference turns out pretty well. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5280 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0059XF2NI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,605 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph in Every Possible Way! October 10, 2001
By A Customer
This book is so accomplished and outstanding, it's hard to know where to begin. Let's start by saying the New York Times Book Review was right in reviewing this book twice! Raphael is a fine literary writer (see his dark novel Winter Eyes, for example), but he's here mastered the art of academic satire and more than holds his own with David Lodge, Robert Barnard, Jane Smiley and Amanda Cross. It's a clever and compelling mystery, too, filled with extravagantly intriguing characters. There's a powerful depiction of a stable and loving relationship, and the book also offers wonderful social satire of the Edith Wharton boom of the 1990s. The prose is finely tuned, as you'd expect from this prize-winning author. Best of all, there is the witty,caring but put-upon voice of the narrator, Nick Hoffman, the embattled composition professor. In fact, there's so much here that less attentive readers may miss its wealth--so pour a glass of your favorite wine and read slowly! The Edith Wharton Murders is proof of what acclaimed mystery novelist Barbara D'Amato has said many times: we live in a great age of mystery writers.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars bet you can't read just one ..... August 29, 1999
By A Customer
Nick Hoffman & his companion, Stefan Borowski, are academics at the State University of Michigan in Michiganopolis (read Michigan State University, East Lansing). They have some cool and far too many specious colleagues, and everybody gets caught up in the dreadful politics of academia. This series is funny & educational & interesting & thoroughly addictive. It may seem odd to compare a mystery writer to novelist Laurie Colwin, but fans of hers should check out Lev Raphael. His writing is in many ways reminiscent of hers & that's about the highest compliment I can pay any writer! THE EDITH WHARTON MURDERS, like Raphael's other two mysteries, is written intelligently, humorously, with a very good ear &, in this one, an all-too-accurate view of that bizarre phenomenon, the Academic Conference.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IT'S DA-LICIOUS, IT'S DA-LIGHTFUL, IT'S DA-LOVELY... November 18, 1997
What an utterly charming book! In THE EDITH WHARTON MURDERS, the second Nick Hoffman mystery, author Lev Raphael hits his stride--and it is something to behold. Witty, elegant and fun, this gay cosy (sub sub-genre?) details the murder and mayhem at an Edith Wharton conference hosted by SUM Lit professor, Nick Hoffman.
Elements that irked me in the self-conscious LET'S GET CRIMINAL, the first of this original series, are noticeably missing here. For example, main characters Nick and (particularly) Stefan are fleshed out and much more likeable (scatty, enthusiastic, emotional Nick is fast developing into a classic). Their relationship is explored, and I was relieved to see some fallout over the Perry Cross affair (no healthy person takes betrayal as meekly as Nick appeared to in LET'S GET CRIMINAL).
Raphael is refreshingly ruthless in targeting his murder victims from both old and new characters. He sets a lively pace and keeps his amusing cast dancing, while tantalyzing the reader with mouthwatering descriptions of good music, good food, good wine and clever conversation. And I think he makes a smart decision in keeping his mysteries non-gay specific. Nick and the reluctant Stefan are normal, attractive guys (who happen to be gay) caught up in the extraordinary occurrence of murder. It could happen to anyone--though probably not so entertainingly.
I can't wait to see what mischief Nick next gets himself--and the handsome and frequently disapproving Stefan--into.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new twist on an old genre September 3, 2003
By Barbara
"The Edith Wharton Murders" has it all---good writing, a bright and charming amateur sleuth, and a fresh and ironic take on those well-worn groves of academe. Wait---before you groan and mutter something about "another campus mystery with cutesy cartoon characters as faculty members," give this one a try. You''ll find plenty of highly UNstereotyped profs---you probably had classes with some of them, maybe even Nick Hoffman himself. New t-shirt motto: I LUV LEV!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bright, bi***y and beautiful with sharp ending May 9, 1998
By A Customer
Raphael's State University and its Edith Warton Conference are dedicated to the proposition that there is no academic too self-conscious or modest. Nick Hoffman, the reluctant hero of Raphael's series, has grown since his first appearance in Let's Get Criminal, and the dialogue is a treat to behold. This is a sure winner for fans of academic satires and traditional mysteries. Reminiscent of Robert Barnard, especially his Hovering of Vultures (a convention of Bronte ideologues). Prerequisite: a well-developed sense of humor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Raphael really knows how to navigate this territory. Nick is smart, perceptive, and just insecure and naive enough to be a believeable, albeit unusual, academic/amateur sleuth. He lives well, is a curious observer, and he even likes his students. Probably that's why he's always in such hot water with colleagues and superiors. This wise and intelligent mystery is squarely in the tradition of Nick and Nora; and it pays homage as well to the wit and elegance--and psychological dimensions--of Edith Wharton's most mature work. That's why this satirical literary mystery works in satisfying ways on several different levels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I'm a big fan of Mr. Rafael's work, having read everything he has published. I still consider "Winter Eyes" his best work, however. The Nick Hoffman mysteries are entertaining but they do not have the same visceral grip that his more personal writings have had. I'm hoping that as he continues to explore this genre, he will add more character depth and less meal descriptions in his prose. I want to know how they feel, not what they ate. "The Edith Wharton Murders" is fun and the characters at SUM are becoming more real, but they still seem like sitcom characters at this point. But I still plan to stay tuned.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect service
Published 6 months ago by PDB
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing, languid spoof of academics
This was a fun read. Normally I don't go in for mysteries, but this one has a novel, academic twist. I'll need to check out some of the other Nick Hoffman mysteries. Read more
Published 10 months ago by J. V. Simson
5.0 out of 5 stars Who hasn't wanted to kill an academic, at some point?
This is the most fun I've had on campus since David Lodge -- and I work at a university. I've often thought that the academy is a natural setting for murder mysteries, since the... Read more
Published on July 23, 2012 by Susan Pitchford
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, Delicious Mystery
What a delicious, quirky, genre-tweaking mystery. I loved it. -- Janice Eides, author of "The War of the Rosens," and "The Last Jewish Virgin"
Published on March 30, 2012 by Janice Eidus
5.0 out of 5 stars Acidemic world as a snakepit
Professor Nick Hoffman is a very small fish swimming with the tenured and powerful sharks at the State University of Michigan, so his future in academia hangs in the balance when... Read more
Published on February 17, 2012 by Author Bill Peschel
5.0 out of 5 stars Fully converted
This is my third Lev Raphael mystery (though I did not read them in order). I have liked them more and more with each one I have read, I think because I am growing to understand... Read more
Published on July 21, 2011 by Wanda B. Red
4.0 out of 5 stars The Edith Wharton Murders is a winner
Lev Raphael's book, The Edith Wharton Murders is excellent. It is wounderfull to find a mystery that is engaging and well written. Read more
Published on November 29, 2010 by VaCowboy
4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny!
I love Lev Raphael's style. The main hero's - Nick Hoffman's - inner monologue is simply hilarious. The author's description of the academic life is acerbic and sarcastic and that... Read more
Published on December 28, 2008 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, lots of fun
I really enjoyed this book by a former professor of mine at Michigan State University. I am not a seasoned book reviewer, but I have read a number of mysteries lately after a long... Read more
Published on June 30, 2008 by Donald B
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, It is a mystery.
Naturally I expected it was a mystery with murders in the title, but reading it felt like I'd stumbled into a literary novel about writer's Angst. Read more
Published on July 29, 2004 by Lorraine Talbot
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More About the Author

Lev Raphael has wanted to be an author since he was in second grade, and he's not only achieved his dream, he's published twenty-five books in genres from memoir to mystery to Jane Austen Mashup; had his books translated into nearly a dozen languages; appeared in two documentaries; won various prizes; done hundreds of invited talks and readings on three different continents; recently sold his literary papers (92 boxes!) to the Michigan State University Libraries (MSUL); been the subject of scholarly articles, papers and book chapters; and seen his work taught at colleges and universities around the country. Which means he's become homework. Who knew?

Born and raised in New York, he got over it and has spent half his life in Michigan. He's a pioneer in writing about children of Holocaust survivors, which he's been doing since 1978, longer than almost any other American author. He frequently tours with his books (check for his current schedule) and is currently touring with My Germany, a memoir/travelogue exploring the role Germany has played in his family, his life, and his career.

After he escaped academia to write full-time, he reviewed extensively for over a decade for the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Radio, The Washington Post, Jerusalem Report, The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Forward, Boston Review, and Lambda Book Report. He now reviews for and WKAR 90.5 FM/East Lansing Public Radio, and when he's not busy, he sometimes imagines some graduate student years from now in the MSUL archives puzzling over his handwriting.

A seasoned reader of his own work, with a background in theater and teaching, he loves the performance aspect of touring, as well as meeting people he'd never meet back home. And the sightseeing. And the foreign foods. For photos from his previous German book tours, go to

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